The winner of the 2010 Best Foreign Language Oscar, Argentinean thriller, El Secreto de Sus Ojos is a rich, textured look at love, loss and memory. Set in 1999 Buenos Aires, the film looks at the people involved in a criminal case twenty years earlier, during Argentina’s military dictatorship, that was hampered by political and personal vendettas.
Popular Argentinean actor Ricardo Darín (Nine Queens – 2005) plays Benjamin Espósito, a retired state prosecution investigator. Still haunted by a 25-year-old case, he tries to exorcise his demons by writing a novel about the brutal rape and murder of a 23-year-old schoolteacher and the subsequent messy investigation. The story unfolds in flashbacks, edited through Benjamin’s memories, to reveal a plot that is about so much more than one miscarriage of justice.
The lives of Irene Ménendez Hastings (Soledad Villamil) Benjamin’s superior and love interest, Ricardo Morales (Pablo Rago) the teacher’s bereaved husband and Pablo Sandoval (Guillermo Francella) Benjamin’s alcoholic work colleague are all forever interwoven through this murder enquiry, with tragic consequences.
The Secret in Their Eyes has been masterfully structured by screenwriter/director Juan Jose Campenella, with each layer of memory peeled back to reveal something new, making the film completely compelling for its long 126 mins running time. The camera work is remarkable especially in the huge football stadium scene and in the smaller intimate lift sequence. Both scenes ramp up the film’s suspense, leaving you breathless for very different reasons.
Adapted from a novel by Eduardo Sacheri, the film, while uniquely Argentinean in its setting, offers universally understood insights into memory and regret. Campenella has embedded very real menace and intrigue into a protracted love story, aided by the impressive ensemble cast. This is a film capable of completely absorbing you into its twists and turns as it explores the intricacies and extremities of what the search for justice truly means.